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A New Tool For Genetic Genealogists: 23andMe’s Relative Finder

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23andMe has been beta testing a new tool for comparing autosomal DNA results called “Relative Finder.” Although I was not one of the beta testers, it seems that this new tool will be of great use to genealogists. Roberta Estes has posted a nice summary of the Relative Finder tool at the “Searching for the Lost Colony DNA Blog.”

90% of Customers Likely to Find a Match!

Relative Finder compares your autosomal SNP results to the results of others in the 23andMe database to determine matches. While developing the tool, 23andMe discovered that in their dataset of “more than 5000 individuals with European ancestry,” 90% of individuals had at least one distant relative between 2nd and 8th degree cousins!

Other Uses

Beyond identifying … Click to read more!

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Archived DNA Articles at Ancestry Magazine

Last week my Google alert for “genetic genealogy” went crazy, and it took me a few days to realize that Ancestry Magazine recently made all their archives available for free online.  Although I’m not sure how far back their archives go, there appears to be hundreds of genealogy articles on the site.

A quick search of “DNA” at the site, for instance, reveals MANY articles relating to genetic ancestry testing. This is a great resource for anyone interested in genetic genealogy.

I see that Schelly at Tracing the Tribe had the same Google alerts frenzy last week. As she notes, some of the articles are rather old, so be sure to check the dates before you read them; the information might require some … Click to read more!

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The Future of Genetic Genealogy – Tracing DNA To Individual Ancestors

I once told someone that in addition to learning about their ancient origins (such as Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups), many genetic genealogists would ideally like to match every portion of their DNA with the contributing ancestor.  Although this might seem to be beyond the reach of current genetic ancestry testing, it has actually already begun.  The family compare function of 23andMe, for example, is already being used by genetic genealogists for just this purpose; people who have matching DNA segments can compare ancestry and attempt to identify the ancestor who might have contributed the DNA.

For obvious reasons, medical geneticists have for many years been using genealogy to trace founder mutations in populations.  For example, in 2008 scientists … Click to read more!

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From The MormonTimes – Does DNA Disprove Lehi Story?

From a story in today’s Mormon Times:

The first rumblings about DNA and the Book of Mormon came about 10 years ago, according to Perego, a senior researcher at Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation.Critics cobbled together data from a variety of early DNA studies and came to the unsurprising conclusion that the studies indicated an Asian origin for Native Americans.

This, the critics argued, proved that the Book of Mormon was false. They claimed that the book says the continent was empty and if it was empty, then all Native Americans should have Lehi’s Israelite DNA, not Asian DNA.

Ugo Perego, well-known in genetic genealogy circles, talks with the journalist about the compatibility of our current understanding of Native American origins and the Book of Mormon.  According to Perego, there are possibilities solutions to this apparent conundrum:

“Try to ask this question to a population geneticist: ‘Is it possible that a small family from Israel could have arrived in America, to a largely populated continent, and that no genetic evidence would survive after 2,600 years?’” Perego says. “Why don’t they ask that question? That is exactly the question they need to ask.”

Read the article to learn more.

The article is part 1 of a 4-part series.
Posted via web from … Click to read more!

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The World of Genetic Genealogy and DTC Genetic Testing Never Sleeps…

In the past week there have been so many articles and posts about either genetic genealogy or DTC genetics that I’m writing them up as a summary post rather than individually.

The New York Times Tackles DTC Genetic Testing

An article in yesterday’s New York Times by Jane E. Brody – “Buyer Beware of Home DNA Tests” – argues that DTC genetic testing is fraught with danger (the article and some of Brody’s arguments are summarized by Grace Ibay of Genetics & Health: “Seven Reasons Why Home DNA Tests Are Hype”).  The author even lumps in genetic genealogy (which has been around for over 9 years now, hardly a “new industry” that has sprung up “to cash in” on new science):

“As a source of entertainment at so-called spit parties or an effort to trace genetic ancestry, the tests might be seen as relatively harmless (unless someone is appalled to discover who their ancestors might be).  But for the many people who are bypassing the medical profession to determine, they believe, how likely they are to develop a life-threatening disorder, experts say direct-to-consumer genetic testing is fraught with potential dangers.”

Oh no, people might be “appalled” to discover their ancestors!  I can assure you that people were “appalled to … Click to read more!

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A New Meme: How Many of Your Ancestors Are In The SSDI?

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is a searchable database created from the U.S. Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, which contains the name and social security number of deceased persons reported to the Social Security Administration since roughly 1962.  In addition to being used by genealogists, the Death Master File and SSDI are used by financial firms and government agencies for various reasons such as preventing identity fraud.

A Genealogy Meme Using the SSDI

Michael Neill at RootDig has two posts – “Have You Searched for All Your Ancestors in the SSDI?” and “My in-laws in the SSDI” – that list his and his wife’s ancestors in the SSDI.  Michael has 7 ancestors, while his wife has 6.

This led me to wonder how many ancestors I have in the SSDI, and a very brief search led me to conclude that I … Click to read more!

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What’s In A Name? Genetic Genealogy Article From Trends in Genetics

DNA stockTrends in Genetics has an article by Turi E. King and Mark A. Jobling from the University of Leicester highlighting Y-DNA genetic genealogy.  Specifically, the article – “What’s in a name? Y chromosomes, surnames and the genetic genealogy revolution” – looks at the relationship between surnames and Y-DNA genetics.  Dr. King and Dr. Jobling have previously conducted a great deal of research in this area (see here and here, for example).

The article is a review of this area and contains some interesting information, including a section regarding “Genetic genealogy and the rise of recreational genetics.”

Genetic genealogists recognized as making genuine contributions to the field:

In the article, the authors note that genetic genealogists are making discoveries in this field:

“Genetic genealogy … Click to read more!

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Australian Research Study on Consumer Genomics‏

As part of her doctoral research, Sudeepa Abeysinghe is asking people who have purchased genomic tests to complete the “User Experiences of Direct-to-Consumer Genomic Testing Survey”.  According to Sudeepa, the survey focuses on the consumer experience and is completely independent of any testing company.

Although I’m late on reporting this (it was already covered by GenomeWeb, for example), I thought I would mention it in case anyone has missed the previous coverage and might be interested in completing the survey.

This is an opportunity for genetic genealogists to share their experiences and voice their thoughts regarding DTC genomic … Click to read more!

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The Genomics Law Report Addresses the ACCP’s Call for Regulation of DTC Genetic Tests

Another great article from the Genomics Law Report (if you aren’t already reading this new blog, you should be) – “Is the ACCP’s Call for Greater Governmental Regulation of DTC Genetics Premature?”

Barbara Ameer and Norberto Krivoy of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology (ACCP) have an article (pdf) in The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology that promotes regulation of DTC genetic tests (which could conceivably include genetic genealogy tests).  The Genomics Law Report analyzes the paper’s arguments and concludes with the following:

“Without convincing evidence of the harms of DTC genetic testing, it remains difficult to fully justify more rigorous governmental regulation, or to anticipate its content, structure or ultimate effect, which perhaps explains why such regulation continues to remain just over the horizon.”

If you’re interested in this area, click over to the Genomics Law Report and read this article (as well as the original ACCP … Click to read more!

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Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation First to Adopt Genetic Genealogy’s New Industry Standard for Reporting Y-DNA Profiles

Today, the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) reported that they are adopting a standardized Y-STR reporting system proposed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce and supported by the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG).

The standardized system was first published in the Fall 2008 issue (pdf) of the Journal of Genetic Genealogy (JoGG).

First, let me add a note of caution – this change ONLY represents a change in how results are REPORTED.  Even though companies report results differently, this does not mean that the actual DNA testing results are wrong or different!  This shift is NOT to correct errors in testing results; it is only to standardize reporting.

From the Press Release:

SALT LAKE CITY (Aug. 17, 2009)-The Sorenson Molecular … Click to read more!